Florida Guide > Other Activities
Space Shuttle Launch
Where and how do you get to see a Space Shuttle or unmanned space launch while on holiday in Florida?
Well to get to see a space shuttle launch in Florida you need to have a great deal of luck and be in the right place at the right time, so often people book a holiday around the week of a space shuttle launch, only to find it has been postponed to a later date. If you want to play it a little safer and want to plan for the worst it would be advised to book when launch is at the beginning of your holiday, giving you that 2 week cushion if it does not launch.
We were very lucky and had booked to visit when the last space shuttle Discovery went into space in July 2005 (the first for a few years). Having been delayed a week we were sitting on the pool deck of our villa when we heard of the good to go for the launch on CNN. As we were still in Orlando at the time it was decided to stay at the villa and see what we could see.
Depending on the weather you can see any launch from many miles away. Obviously it is best to watch it as close as you can get to the Cape (or the space coast). In Orlando on a clear day if you look to the East you should be able to see the trail of smoke from the two large twin rockets. The easiest way to know you re looking east is to look over to where the sun has come up first thing in the morning.
While using the TV in the villa we were able to know exactly when the launch was taking place and it was strange to see everyone on the street stop what they were doing and look East towards the coast. After around 10 seconds we could all see the smoke as it speeded up into the atmosphere, everyone very still and quiet.
If I was to do it all again I think I would definitely watch from one of the great vantage points North of the Cape, or pay to see it close up by getting a visitors pass from NASA. To obtain these you need to write to NASA direct and send them information of the shuttle or launch you wish to watch. As these are limited normally it works on a first come first served basis. These are normally a car pass which gives you access to designated sites.
Overall I would get as close as you possibly can, make sure you leave from Orlando or the Gulf Coast very early as traffic gets very busy on the way to Kennedy and the Cape. In most cases people get as near as they can and park the car up on the side of the road. Wherever you are it really is a great experience.
Would I do it again, you bet!
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